Emmy Award Winner James Reynolds and Several Honorees This Saturday

1st Annual SPARCtacular Benefit gARTen pARTy, Saturday, September 22, from 3 to 6 p.m. honors prominent South Pasadenans

A special presentation of the South Pasadena Arts Council’s SPARCtacular Awards, given in recognition of individuals who “Ignite Creativity and Illuminate the Arts,” will take place during the festive “1st Annual SPARCtacular Benefit gARTen pARTy,” Saturday, September 22, from 3 to 6 p.m., at the estate of hosts Bill and Mary Urquhart.

This year’s SPARCtacular Awards were designed by metal sculptor Robert Burgert (Kiser Originals). In addition, two talented high school student artists will receive SPARCtacular Award Certificates, presented by South Pasadena’s Mayor, Richard Schneider.

The honorees:

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Andrew Bernstein

Andrew Bernstein is a world-renowned NBA photographer and recipient of the 2018 Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Curt Gowdy Media Award, whose sports photographs have been seen in galleries and across multiple print and digital platforms. Over his 36-year career, Andy has served as official photographer for the Los Angeles Lakers, Clippers, Sparks, Dodgers, and Kings, among others; and as director of photography for the STAPLES Center and Microsoft Theater. He is a founding partner of Legends Of Sport—paying tribute to notable athletes, teams, moments, venues and sports personalities—and hosts “Legends Of Sport with Andrew D. Bernstein” podcast. His upcoming book of photography, The Mamba Mentality: How I Play, a collaboration with NBA great Kobe Bryant, is due to be published in October 23 by Farrar Straus & Giroux. Andy works out of his studio, Andrew D. Bernstein Associates Photography, Inc., on Mission Street in South Pasadena. He and his wife, Mariel Mulet, who is Senior Investigator of the USC Office of Equity and Diversity, have four children: Michael and Helena, age 23; Juliet, age 22; and Mimi, age 10.

PHOTO: Andrew Bernstein | SouthPasadenan.com | NBA Photographer Andrew Bernstein


James Reynolds

James Reynolds, best known for his role as Abe Carver on NBC’s Days of Our Lives, won the 2018 Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series, the first African American to receive this award in more than 35 years. A veteran of stage, screen, and television. James is proud to have been a principal actor in one series, longer than any African-American actor in the history of television—daytime or nighttime. A native of Oskaloosa, Kansas, James has been named one of that state’s 105 Greatest Citizens, a list that includes Dwight Eisenhower, Amelia Earhart, and Gale Sayers. He has served on the Kansas State Historical Society board for more than two decades, and as a former Marine and Vietnam veteran, James was the longest serving U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs Spokesperson for Hospitalized Veterans. He has made 20-plus trips to visit troops around the world for the USO and Armed Forces Entertainment. James and his wife Lissa are the owners and Co-Artistic Directors of the Fremont Centre Theatre in South Pasadena and are founding members of the South Pasadena Arts council (SPARC). Currently, they serve on the Board of Directors of that organization. James and Lissa are past recipients of South Pasadena’s Business Persons of the Year Award, the Pasadena Arts Council’s prestigious Gold Crown Award, and the South Pasadena Image Award, bestowed by the mayor of the city on citizens who have worked in the community to enhance its image.

PHOTO: Alisa Diez | southpasadenan.com |

Award for Artistic Support

Laurie Wheeler

Laurie Wheeler, CEO and President of the South Pasadena Chamber of Commerce, is a native Southern Californian—fourth generation!  She grew up in the San Fernando Valley, and after attending Glendale College and Cal State Northridge, moved to the San Gabriel Valley. Laurie worked as a Project Manager at Huntington Hospital in the Planning Office; coordinating with a staff of three all the construction, remodeling, renovations of the hospital. She met her husband there, and when their twin daughters were in kindergarten, Laurie resigned to be a stay-home mom, volunteering with the PTA, and numerous community organizations and groups. In 2005, when the girls were in 3rd grade, Laurie began working part-time with the South Pasadena Chamber of Commerce, which at that time was in its infancy, growing membership and borrowing a small office inside the Citizens Business Bank office. Now that her daughters are recent college graduates, Laurie’s “empty nest” hours are spent working with the South Pasadena business community to promote the uniqueness that is South Pasadena.

PHOTO: SPARC | SouthPasadenan.com | Laurie Wheeler


Award for Artistic Inspiration

Ron Koertge

Ron Koertge, the 2018 Poet Laureate of South Pasadena and a long-time resident of the city, taught English and Creative Writing at Pasadena City College for 37 years. A prolific writer, he has published more than a dozen books of poetry. Some of his most recent works, published by prestigious Red Hen Press, are Fever, 2006; Indigo, 2009; The Ogre’s Wife, 2013; and Vampire Planet, 2015. Ron is the recipient of grants from the NEA and the California Arts Council. He is a 2017 Pushcart Prize-winner and his poems are included in two volumes of Best American Poetry (1999 and 2005). Ron’s most recent book from Red Hen Press is a 2018 “comic-for-smart-people” entitled Olympusville. Ron is also the author of the poem Negative Space, short-listed for a 2017 Oscar in Animated Short Films.

PHOTO: SPARC | SouthPasadenan.com | Ron Koertge


Student Awards for Achievement in the Arts

David Pérez Espinosa

As a South Pasadena High School junior, David Pérez Espinosa was 1st place winner in Congresswoman Judy Chu’s 2018 Congressional Art Competition. His winning entry will be displayed for a year in the Capitol in Washington DC with other 1st place Congressional winners from across the country, and his work was also displayed in the SPARC Gallery as part of this year’s “Annual South Pasadena High School Juried Art Show.” As a child in his native Mexico City, David loved playing with Legos, travelling, and painting murals of dolphins on the walls of his room. In 2013, David moved to South Pasadena, where he attended middle school, learning English and finding his passion for drawing. His art today encompasses themes of his own cultural migration. David’s plans beyond 12th grade are to become a happy professional creator.

PHOTO: SPARC | SouthPasadenan.com | David Perez Espinosa and Madeline Yoo


Madeleine Yoo

Maddie Yoo, 1st place winner of ArtCenter College of Design’s 2018 “Expressing Feelings Through Art” competition for her entry, “Young, Loud Power,” is a sophomore at South Pasadena High School. She discovered a strong passion for art when she was a young child and continues to express herself through drawing, working with charcoal, markers, ink, and colored pencils. Maddie also took part in Congresswoman Judy Chu’s 2018 Congressional Art Competition, receiving an honorable mention; and she has been awarded gold keys and honorable mentions in the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. The SPARC Gallery featured two of Maddie’s works in this year’s “Annual South Pasadena High School Juried Art Show.” In addition to creating art, Maddie enjoys writing and playing with her dog, Penny.

“The 1st Annual SPARCtacular Benefit gARTen pARTy will also feature a guest performance by Grammy Award-winning Billy Vera and other entertainment, as well as arts-themed activities, silent and live auctions, a raffle, a special cocktail and mocktail designed for the event by Griffin’s of Kinsale, and food provided on-site by Crossings Restaurant. Proceeds will help support SPARC’s cultural programs and activities in the community. Tickets: $50 per person or $90 per couple. Location and ticket information: https://www.sopasartscouncil.org/events/sparc-benefit-garten-party